Saturday, July 13, 2024
Saturday, July 13, 2024
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How D-Day Saved Europe, and My Family from the Nazis

Gerard Leval
Jerusalem Post, June 5, 2024

“Without the ultimate sacrifice of thousands of Americans and the liberation that those soldiers made possible, my grandparents, my mother and my uncle would likely have been deported to Auschwitz and certain death.”

Thursday marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied landings along the Normandy coast during World War II. Most Americans are somewhat aware of D-Day and to some, it may even stand out as a pivotal moment in the history of Western civilization. To me, the anniversary of D-Day is highly personal.

Were it not for the success of D-Day, I would never have existed. Therefore, I celebrate each June 6 as a kind of pre-birthday.

My mother’s Jewish family had lived in France for several hundred years and in Paris for three-quarters of a century when the German army marched into Paris in the spring of 1940. The family had a pleasant middle-class existence in the French capital. Fiercely patriotic, members of the family had served in the French army since the time of Napoleon and my grandfather’s twin brother had made the ultimate sacrifice during the Battle of Verdun in World War I.

At the time of the French Revolution, 150 years earlier, French Jews had achieved full French civil rights, from which my mother’s family amply benefited. With the arrival of the Nazis, who received the support of certain French collaborators, all of that came to an end. Beginning in 1941, the Nazi occupiers with the full cooperation of the puppet Vichy government began a process of segregating, isolating and persecuting Jews living in France.. … [To read the full article, click here.]

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